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Bomb threat at Albemarle County Planet Fitness; likely related to trans bathroom controversy

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A Planet Fitness in Albemarle County received a bomb threat this afternoon, an incident that is possibly linked to a viral campaign to boycott the gym chain for its “inclusive” policies.

Police evacuated the gym at 150 Wegmans Way and Haverty’s Furniture next door as a precaution. 5th Street Station Parkway was also temporarily closed.

Nationwide, Planet Fitness has been in conservative crosshairs because its policy allows gym members to use the locker room associated with their gender identity. A woman’s membership at the Fairbanks, Alaska, location was allegedly revoked when she complained about a transgender person shaving their face in the women’s locker room. A TikTok account labeled “Libs of TikTok” demanded a boycott in retaliation for the locker room policy.

The Staunton-based Queen City Strength, owned by Page Hearn, a failed school board candidate and someone who attended the Jan. 6 rally and insurrection in D.C., used the Planet Fitness controversy to try to convince people her facility is a “safe place for your family to workout.”

The March 28 post on Facebook read in part that Queen City Strength doesn’t “care who you love, how you dress, or what you call yourself. We only care that you treat the place and the people with respect and that if you have a penis, you use the men’s locker room, and if you have a vagina, you use the women’s locker room. We’re taking it back to the basics and choosing to follow the science on this one.”

The post also showed a photo of a man with muscles in a sports bra with the caption, “meanwhile in the lady’s dressing room at Planet Fitness.”

In Albemarle County today, no bomb devices were found.

At 4:22 p.m., K-9s from the Albemarle County Police Department and the University of Virginia Police Department were dispatched to check the building for any explosives.

News reports online indicate that more than 30 locations of Planet Fitness have received bomb threats in 11 states since the controversy began.

The Albemarle County PD did not comment on the controversy or if they believe the bomb threat was related.

The investigation has been turned over to the Albemarle County Fire Marshal’s office. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call ACPD at (434) 296-5807 or CrimeStoppers at (434) 977-4000. Callers may remain anonymous.

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.